The place where half a million products are stored
With just one click, the television is ordered in Saturn's online shop, and shortly afterwards it is freshly packed and waiting to be picked up at the store or brought to the customer's front door. The customer doesn't notice what happens in between. For this reason, we accompanied a parcel on its way - and drove to our logistics center in Erfurt.
A buzzing buzz, repeated clattering at regular intervals - when you enter the 55,000 square metre logistics centre in Erfurt, you immediately notice that there are many parcels in circulation here. To be precise, an average of 508,000 products are stored on the shelves, some of which are so high that one can only guess their end.
Logistics play an important role at MediaMarktSaturn. It is part of the strategic focus "Supply Chain & Category Management". Around 400 employees work in Erfurt. The call center is located directly above the warehouse, where around half of the staff at the Erfurt location take care of customer inquiries from the stores and the online business. The proximity of the two areas is not the only feature of the fulfillment center: "What makes Erfurt so special, of course, are the many great people who work here. We are a separate logistics unit of MediaMarktSaturn Germany. We are not outsourced. We do the logistics ourselves," explains Managing Director Ralf Schiller. "This means that we can implement the specifications of the sales division very quickly and flexibly.
At the beginning there is the incoming goods inspection
The fact that speed plays a central role can be clearly seen in the warehouse. Parcels are unloaded every second, travel over roller conveyors and make their way to their shelf section. When they are ordered, they go back again.
Alexander Krien, Head of Operational Logistics, explains how this works in detail. "The route of a parcel begins in the morning hours at the goods receiving department. There we receive a delivery with the parcel on a pallet or in containers. First of all, we carry out an incoming goods inspection."
Quantity and quality are then checked and the goods are registered by the system so that they are officially available. Then it is brought to the various areas of the goods that are available. These are the high-bay warehouse, the shelf area or, at the end, the automatic small parts warehouse (AKL).
Afterwards, when the employee has booked the goods in the goods receipt, the goods are available and can be ordered online in the shop directly by the customer.
Cartons are automatically unfolded and sealed
If the customer orders an article, his order is sent to the logistics center system shortly afterwards. These orders are collected. The employee is then sent by foot or forklift to the areas, commissions the goods by route and makes them available to the packer. The packer then stows the articles in the shipping carton. The special feature: the shipping carton is purchased from regional dealers and is erected and sealed fully automatically in the logistics centre in Erfurt.
"Thanks to the various optimisation and automation options, we are able to dispatch a large number of parcels within a short period of time and hand them over to the service provider. We can accept orders until 6 p.m. and hand them over to the service provider on the same day, so that in most cases the customer can already hold his parcel in his hands on the following day," says Alexander Krien.
By collecting orders by 6 p.m. and then sending them to the stores together, the logistics centre makes an important contribution to sustainability. The bundling results in lower transport costs and less packaging material is required. Apropos packaging: In the interests of sustainability, the filling material has also been changed from plastic to paper.
Sustainable logistics is one of seven strategic sustainability initiatives and thus part of MediaMarktSaturn's sustainability strategy. The main focus of sustainable logistics is on recording and reducing environmental and climate impacts.
What happens if the customer is not satisfied with his order?
Monthly between 0.01 and approx. 4 percent of all orders are returned. Only those items that can no longer be repaired are discarded. "New goods are put back on sale with us. Returns are classified into three classes: A, B and C. A goods are like new goods and in their original packaging. They can be sent out immediately. B-goods must be processed - repaired in case of doubt - but these goods will also be marketed further - for example as special offers in special markets. C goods are goods that can no longer be repaired. That is a very small part. An example of this is a television set with a panel damage. It is then scrapped," explains Ralf Schiller.
If customers have questions about their orders, the call center comes into play. Directly above the logistics hall, over 200 employees take care of a wide variety of customer concerns. "In market telephony, there are up to 30,000 calls a day," says Nancy Mierski, Head of Customer Care. The questions come by telephone, chat or e-mail and vary greatly: "Whether it's the height of the underground car park entrance in Erfurt or the status of a particular order - we are always there to help our customers with their questions.